Honoring the First Latino Four-Star General

The Killeen, Texas, military base that was known as Fort Hood for more than 80 years is now Fort Cavazos. The base was renamed in honor of the late General Richard Cavazos, the first Latino four-star Army general, who was born in Texas.  

Renaming U.S. Army Bases 

The base is one of nine Army facilities that are being renamed.  For decades, the names of these bases honored Confederate officers and supporters of the Civil War. The Confederate States of America was made up of 11 states that broke away from the United States in 1861. The issue of slavery divided the two groups. The Confederate States wanted to protect slavery as they believed it was important to their economy. The Union (United States) wanted to end slavery and restore the divided nation. The Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865 to repair this division and ended slavery in the nation.  

Outcry Against Confederate Symbols 

After the 2020 killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, many Americans began protesting the continuing racial inequalities in the American legal system and in society. One result of these protests was an effort to remove public symbols of the Confederacy from government buildings. Because of public outcry, Congress established the Naming Commission in 2021. Its mission was to provide renaming recommendations for all Department of Defense property that commemorated the Confederate States of America or anyone who served voluntarily with the Confederacy. Objects to be renamed included names of bases, ships, streets, and buildings. The commission recommended renaming Fort Hood and eight other Army bases by January 2024 as part of an effort to confront racism. Fort Hood was previously named after Confederate General John Bell Hood–the youngest man to achieve the rank of major general in the Confederate Army at the age of 31. 

Namesake for Fort Cavazos 

The renamed base is the nation’s third-largest U.S. military base, covering a total of 340 square miles. More than 34,000 military personnel and 48,500 family members are stationed at the base. It’s about 60 miles north of Austin, Texas. Officials hope that honoring Cavazos will also raise awareness of and appreciation for minority Americans and their sacrifices in fighting for the country.  

In May 2023, the base held a ceremony officially renaming it for General Richard Cavazos. He was born to Mexican American parents, becoming a sixth-generation Texan. His father was a World War I veteran who later became a cattle ranch foreman. Cavazos served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. In Korea, he was a platoon leader for the Borinqueneers, made up of mostly Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican soldiers.  

While serving in Korea, Cavazos rallied his men to make three charges against an enemy position. He made five trips onto the battlefield to pull his wounded soldiers to safety before he accepted medical treatment for himself. For those actions, he received a Silver Star and a Distinguished Service Cross. The Distinguished Service Cross is the country’s second highest military honor for bravery.  

Cavazos earned another Distinguished Service Cross for his service in Vietnam in 1967. He went on to receive five Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, and other awards throughout his military career. In 1982, Cavazos was appointed the Army’s first four-star general. He retired in 1984 and died in 2017. He is remembered as a fearless soldier and a beloved mentor and teacher.

Other Army Bases With New Names 

Other bases that have been or will be renamed include:  

  • Fort Pickett, Virginia, to Fort Barfoot 
  • Fort Rucker, Alabama, to Fort Novosel 
  • Fort Benning, Georgia, to Fort Moore 
  • Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Fort Liberty 
  • Fort Gordon, Georgia, to Fort Eisenhower 
  • Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, to Fort Walker 
  • Fort Lee, Virginia, to Fort Gregg-Adams, and  
  • Fort Polk, Louisiana, to Fort Johnson. 

U.S. Secretary of Defense General Lloyd Austin is a retired Army general and the first African American Secretary of Defense. Austin announced the name changes of the bases in 2022. He said the new names should inspire service members, fully reflect the history and values of the United States and commemorate the best of the nation.   

Dig Deeper Use Internet resources to research one of the remaining eight bases with new names. Refer to the list in the article. Who is the base named for now and what is the significance of the person or people?